NEW YORK – Filipino papal nuncio, the most reverend Archbishop Bernardito Auza held a prayer service at the Church of the Holy Family Monday to mark the opening of the 70th session of U.N. General Assembly.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed grief over the violent extremism in the world today bringing grief to the world, and shame to the faith they claim to represent.
“This prayer service is an answer to the bigots, extremists and terrorists who try to divide communities together we pray side by side,” said Ban. “I still have hope, in a few days world leaders will gather at the U.N. to set the world on course for a better future.”
This year’s prayer service for the United Nations diplomatic community is also dedicated to the upcoming visit of his holiness Pope Francis to the United Nations next week.
Auza says Pope Francis is expected to focus on the need for peace in today’s conflict-torn world.
“I’m very positive that the Pope will touch the hearts, if not all, almost all the people,” said Auza.
“I’m sure there will a big gathering here of the faithful and other faiths who see the Pope as the hope of the world in terms of achieving peace and security, promotion and protection of human rights,” said Lourdes Yparraguirre, Philippine Permanent Representative to the U.N.
As the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Auza is at the helm of the preparations for the pope’s visit.
“The biggest challenge, there are few tickets, and there are lots of demands, joking aside really the biggest challenge is how to fairly and honestly respond to the expectations of so many people in the U.N. and everybody’s excited,” said Auza.
For Filipinos who attended the prayer service, they believe Auza is not only representing also represents the Filipino people.
“Si Archbishop Auza ang nagpe-prepare dito sa Amerika, he’s playing a big role indeed sa pagdating ni Pope Francis,” said Manuel Caballero of Angkop/Couples for Christ, New Jersey.
“He’s in a good position right now in the U.N. especially bringing the Filipino community to the world,” said Roger Santos of Angkop/Couples for Christ, NJ. “It’s a big deal in terms of representation to the Filipino community and in general to the Filipino people.”
Auza remains positive that the papal visit will run smooth and without a hitch.